Before we talk about how Steam-connect contributed to its success, the story of the run-up to the founding of Lead Development Company in 2011 is an interesting one.
The sales career of owner Jeroen van Ginkel started in the nineties when he – with the Yellow Pages on his lap – arranged appointments for the ICT company where he worked at the time. In 2005 he started his own business as an independent trainer with Kenneth Smit, which works with a franchise model.
“I needed clients and so I started calling again.” After a while it became a bit of a strain to still do the telephone acquisition himself. For three years he hired several ‘calling agencies’, but the regular appointments were very non-committal, made on the basis of wrong expectations or pushed through.
Starting with Steam-connect
Van Ginkel decided – together with fellow trainer Ido Paulusma – to train people himself who would arrange appointments for training sessions.
“Clients asked: ‘How do you actually do your own recruitment?’ We told them about these people and they said: can’t we hire them? And so that’s how it all started in 2011.”
Right from the start, they started working with Steam-connect’s qualitative contact centre software.
“We go for quality in the conversations and then you have to work with a top system. The great thing about Steam-connect is that it’s very scalable; we’ve grown in terms of our customer base and number of employees, and you can always add new employees and customers effortlessly.
You have to see Steam-connect as the backbone of our way of working. If, for example, we notice while making calls that a particular target group is better to reach than the original one, we have that information at our disposal thanks to Steam-connect.”
Van Ginkel is therefore very satisfied with the platform: “The great thing is that it is always in development, there are always new applications. It’s great for us that Steam-connect can be integrated with other systems such as Hubspot, which saves us a lot of time.”
Can you explain what makes you different from the competition?
“We always proclaim that we make quality new business deals, but you have to deliver on that and Steam-connect helps us to realise that ambition. For us, Steam-connect functions as a calling system as well as a reporting system.
We can extract all the data from the system; the range of course, but also which contacts are already working with the competitor and when they are reconsidering that relationship. Moreover, with us the customer can check how such a conversation is going.
Our customers have a login code for a portal and – before they enter an appointment we have made – they can listen to the entire conversation.
This is only possible because we work with a system in which these conversations are available via Steam-connect. That’s only possible because we have automated recording of those conversations in Steam-connect.”
Your distinctive strength lies in the conversations themselves?
“Definitely, and that’s because we focus on knowledge-intensive companies in the B2B segment. There you have to deal with DMUs, they know that it takes some time to convince potential customers to make an appointment. We are that very first contact, not for nothing do we call with customer number recognition.”
Why can you offer that quality?
“For example, because we have a lot of experienced people. We want to develop constantly and so does Steam-connect.
They are in the vanguard and often come up with new ideas that contribute to the quality we provide. Telephone acquisition naturally produces data, which we can share with our clients’ CRM or marketing systems via an API.
Steam-connect ensures that this sharing is possible without assistance. We can arrange this ourselves according to need and insight because Steam-connect makes this technically possible, but also trains us in this.”
How did you get through the corona crisis?
“The great thing about Steam-connect is that you are always working in the cloud. When people had to work from home, we just gave them a laptop. As a result, we didn’t have to spend any time at all adapting it.
In the week of the lockdown, we lost 95 per cent of our turnover, but we benefited greatly from a database of companies with people who once said: we will outsource our telephone acquisition, but to another party.
Then you know two things for sure: they believe in telephone acquisition and they are willing to pay for it. We started calling those people with the question: maybe now would be an ideal time for an online meeting? Because many companies had stopped working with their current partner.
A good time to reconsider. That resulted in a lot of appointments.”
So for you, the corona crisis even delivered something?
“When a crisis breaks out I always think: we are all at zero. In the end, we only lost 25 percent in turnover in 2020, we did not save on personnel, but on some other things so that our profitability was fine.
In 2021, we even improved by 120 per cent and went from 12 to 15 people. And all that thanks to the motto: if you are critical of telephone sales, don’t stop, make the calls better.
That’s how we’ve always done it, and Steam-connect has always been a very good partner. This has given us the tools to grow as entrepreneurs.”